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Old 06-10-2015, 08:42 AM   #1
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Internet, TV & phone services when traveling

Howdy All --- Given that I still carry a flip phone that won't even do texting, my techno-savvy leaves a lot to be desired. And since I need to start thinking about "connectivity" for my bus, it seemed like a good idea to query some of the folks here who have "been there, done that".

There are so many options, all of which make big, confusing claims, how about we start a discussion on this topic? While I get the idea of "Hot Spots" courtesy of McDonald's and the like...what about when you are further out in the boonies or just some small town or even an RV park that doesn't have such amenities?

Satellite dishes?
Mobile hot spots?
Cell phones?

I am confident there are some strong opinions among this group of wiley wanderers...let's hear them.
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Old 06-10-2015, 09:14 AM   #2
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Satellite internet can be hit or miss, mobile hotspots are useful, unless you're *not* a subscriber to that particular service (AT&T WiFi is a paywall for non AT&T customers)

For 4G LTE subscribers this map has a good indicator about just *where* you'll have a connection at LTE speeds
Hey! That's not an RV, that's a school bus.
Well thank you for noticing, Captain Obvious

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Old 06-10-2015, 12:02 PM   #3
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Im going to start with simple and move on.
The best easy option is They sell a 4g hotspot for 30 bucks. They give you 500 megs free then charge about 10 bucks a gig after that. You don't wind up on a contract paying for service you only use when on the road. I would start with this.

For TV. I would look at dish the setup is around $400 you might be able to get the equipment used on ebay much cheaper. The tech has not changed for a while. What you might want to look at is either pay as you go or set your home up on the service you wind up using in the RV that way there is no extra cost after equipment purchase. Dish also has a turn on and turn off service but that sounds like a pain if you are shooting off for a weekend.

Now for the cell phone. Its time to get a big boy phone. I am an apple fan but there is plenty of good in the android world. You need something with 4g or a phone that can hook up to as many networks as possible (the new iphones can go to any carrier) GPS maps and all that are invaluable. Plus the phone becomes your email box and goto camera. A setup like that can make wanting in RV internet not as big a deal and you can always laptop at McDonalds or Starbucks (by the way starbucks is google gig ethernet very fast) I think this is a big deal if anything just for safety.

If you plan to go where no man has gone before. Don't be cheap buy a satallite phone or rent when you are going somewhere nuts. Most will think its over kill but if you have a medical emergency and mechanical emergency at the same time 20 miles from service. Your dead. You can also get get a spot satellite messenger for 150 bucks plus service

And have the paramedics in a helicopter in seconds. I wont go back packing without one.
Mike Hathaway
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Old 06-10-2015, 01:14 PM   #4
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Subscribed.. My name is Jerry and I'm a flip phone user too.
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Old 06-10-2015, 03:26 PM   #5
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My approach will be considered complicated... I'm planning to install a wireless access point in the bus so that WiFi and Ethernet devices have something to call home. That'll provide the (W)LAN in and around the bus. It'll need an uplink to external networks in order to surf the interwebs, and that part is flexible. In my case it'll most likely be a WiFi client/bridge pointed to the WiFi in the RV park/coffee shop/library, or a cell phone in hot spot mode. The reason for carrying my own AP is that the "devices" such as tablets, laptops, phones, whatever won't all have to be re-configured individually every time the internet source changes. They all just join to the AP in the bus, and separately I'll worry about connecting the bus network to the world. This also gives an advantage in the case that the park/coffee shop/library is distant: it might be so far away that the devices with their built-in antennas get poor or no connection directly, but the intermediate client/bridge device can have a very good or even directional antenna, potentially holding a WiFi connection over significant distances. This is essentially the same setup I used a few years ago when I shared an internet connection with a buddy who lived 1.2 miles away (as the WiFi, er crow, flies).
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Old 06-10-2015, 05:19 PM   #6
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Excellent information. Let's hear more!
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Old 06-10-2015, 05:27 PM   #7
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Where I live an air card is the only option, and it works reasonably well. When I'm on the road I use my tablet as the hot spot so that I can leave the air card at home for Mumsywumsy. I don't watch TV much, so I really don't care to have it in the bus.
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Old 06-10-2015, 06:19 PM   #8
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If you are traveling big, sadly Verizon is the way to go. People will argue this day in and day out. Of all the people I know that travel country wide weekly, in an entertainer coach, they all have Verizon for phone and internet.
I havent had tv reception for 20 yrs but I asked what they use for tv service. The answer is unanimously Direct TV with a Trac Star antenna bubble thingy.
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:06 PM   #9
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Saw this on QVC the other night:

Item #E226716
Trio 7.85" Quad Core 16GB WiFi 4G Android Tablet w/Free T-Mobile

I use to have service thru Verizon and have a tablet with built in 4G hotspot and loved it. No matter where we went I could use it. The problem with that was if I took it with me there was no service at home for my Mom to use while I was gone. We ran 2 computers and the tablet off of that. We both had android phones through Verizon that had built in hotspots. When I cancelled service none of the above worked anymore.

I now use a "4G mobile hotspot" here at home that I bought either on QVC or HSN that uses T mobile service. It's a prepay plan and I can cancel at any time. I currently buy 7G's of service for $50 a month and most months have some data left over.

That's why I liked the one above from QVC, it only cost $120 bucks and will do the same as my Verizon tablet. It wasn't available when I bought my hotspot or I would have considered it instead just for the ease of use.
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